PART 2 of 3(This post is Part 2. To read Part 1, please scroll down or click on the title on the right side of your screen)
With the previous post, we left the people with Jesus on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. “Rabbi, when did you get here?” they asked him. They could not work out in their minds how he could have gotten to that side.
Jesus was quite short with his answer to them. “You seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate bread and were filled.”
We Came To Get Some More Bread
Again in the text, we have the subject of signs. The feeding of the five thousand, like the other miracles that Jesus performed, was meant not only to alleviate a difficult situation (in that case the hunger of the people), but also to demonstrate that Jesus was the prophesied and expected Messiah.
I think that at this point, Jesus was a little frustrated with these people. They were following him because they liked seeing his miracles, but they refused to see that these were truly signs – actions to demonstrate to them and to give them evidence that he was the Messiah. These were attesting miracles, meant to attest to the fact that he was the Christ.
These people did not see this. They only were happy that Jesus fed them, and now their stomachs were hungry again. They were ready for the next miracle.
Because of this, Jesus continued: “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father , even God, has set His mark” (John 6:27 NAS).
This statement of Jesus’ at least got them to think a little. “What should we do that we may work the work of God?” they asked.
Jesus answered, “This is the work that you should do – believe in him whom God has sent.”
By this time, the people at least knew that Jesus was referring to himself when he spoke of the person that God had sent. So they asked Jesus, “What are you going to do for a sign, to demonstrate to us that you are the Messiah. What work will you perform?”
|The Gathering of Manna, Bernardino Luini, c 1520, Detail
The people continued, “Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness and it is written in the Scriptures, ‘He gave them bread to eat that came out of heaven’.”
We Need More Proof
Let’s stop and think about this a little. For some considerable time, the people had been following Jesus wherever he went. They followed him because they saw the signs – the attesting miracles. They had seen him heal the sick and even raise a boy who was at the point of death. Just the evening before, Jesus had fed a crowd of more than five thousand people with a handful of food.
Now, these same people are asking Jesus what sign he will perform so that they could believe in him. Added to that, they quoted Scripture to Jesus telling of the bread that came out of heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness hundreds of years before. This, to them, represented the kind of sign that they were looking for.
Do you see why I think that Jesus was becoming a little exasperated with them? He had just yesterday fed them with miraculous bread and even gave them some fish with their meal, and yet they had the cheekiness to ask for a sign like a provision of bread so that they could be convinced that he was the Christ. This on top of all of the other signs that they had already seen.
Bread For the Hungry, and Water For the Thirsty
With great patience, Jesus continues to teach them. “Moses may have given you bread from heaven,” he told them, “but it is my father who gives the true bread from heaven. The bread that comes from God is that which will gives life to the world.”
This at least got them interested. “Sir, give us this bread always,” they responded.
Jesus went on to explain to them what he meant. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst…for I have come down from heaven.”
It is interesting that in this statement of Jesus, he mentions not only bread from heaven, but also that he quenches all thirst. Thirst was not a topic in this conversation, but it brings to mind another talk that Jesus had had with someone else – perhaps not many days earlier. That conversation centered around the fact that Jesus was the source of “water of life.”
This talk took place at a well outside of the city of Samaria. As Jesus sat alone in the shade next to the well, a woman from the city came to draw water. The conversation between Jesus and this woman began with the woman coming to the well for water, and Jesus asking her for a drink.
The woman inquired who Jesus was. He told her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give shall never thirst; but…shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 14 NAS).
The woman was interested in this. She thought that Jesus was talking about literal, liquid water. She thought that if she had this “living water,” she would never have to come to the well to draw water again.
Of course, Jesus was not talking about literal water, but about the life that he gives. As this conversation continued, he spoke of this to the woman, who gradually came to understand what he was saying. Not only did she come to understand, she also came to believe that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
(Conclusion in a couple of days)
(Conclusion in a couple of days)